Closing Thought–28Sep17

Up And Running (almost)

Three months ago Rep. Scalise was shot at a ballpark but a whacked out dumbass.  He was rushed into surgery and a hard time fighting infection and such.

But today the representative returned to the floor of the House of Representatives….

Steve Scalise returned to Congress on Thursday for the first time since being shot. “You have no idea how great this feels to be back at work in the people’s House,” the majority whip told his colleagues, who gave him a standing ovation. Earlier, he tweeted, “I’m back.” The Louisiana congressman was seriously wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice three months ago, and on Thursday he thanked the members of the US Capitol Police who exchanged fire with the gunman and the physicians who saved him. He also thanked his wife, Jennifer, who watched from the visitor’s gallery. Speaker Paul Ryan welcomed Scalise with the words, “Our prayers have been answered,” per the AP.

He walked gingerly with 2 canes….but it is good to see that seems to be recovering nicely….IST wishes him continued success in his rehab…speaking from experience…it is a long hard road back.

Rep. Scalise….be well and safe…..chuq

Tax Reform–2017

A Repub president, a Repub Congress and now it is time for the Repub stand-by….TAX REFORM.

They are in control….time to do what they always want to do…..Tax Reform….those policies that screw the Middle Class and give the wealthy incentives and more money.

Trump made it official……he put his tax plan out there……

President Trump launched his push for tax reform Wednesday in Indianapolis, promising a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” and “revolutionary change.” “Under our framework, we will dramatically cut the business tax rate so that American companies and American workers can beat our foreign competitors and start winning again,” USA Today quotes Trump as saying. The New York Times reports the proposed framework reduces the corporate tax rate to 20%, doubles deductions for married and single filers to $24,000 and $12,000 respectively, and reduces the number of tax brackets from seven to three. The top bracket would see a reduced tax rate; the lowest bracket would see an increased tax rate. Overall, Trump claims the plan represents the biggest tax cut in history: “There’s never been tax cuts like we’re talking about.”

Trump is promising the middle class will be “the biggest winners” of his tax plan, which will cause “jobs to start pouring into our country.” But the framework presented lacks details to show whether that would or would not be the case. (CNN reports Trump also claims the plan is “not good for me,” but that’s impossible to prove without his tax returns.) The framework does, however, include details that will specifically benefit rich Americans, for example by getting rid of inheritance taxes paid by the country’s wealthiest families. Without further specifics, the head of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calls Trump’s tax plan “nothing more than a fiscal fantasy.” Trump says he wants to work with Democrats to fill in those details, but Republican leaders say they’ll likely use a special rule to pass tax reform without Democratic support.

It has all the selling points needed…..jobs creation, more tax savings for the workers,etc…..for instance…..a few highlights to work with….

  • Corporations: The New York Times reports that the plan calls for a steep reduction in the tax rate paid by corporations from 35% to 20%, which Trump sees as vital to stimulating the economy.
  • Standard deduction: This would roughly double to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples, “meaning Trump can accurately argue that many more low income earners would pay no tax under his plan,” writes Jonathan Swan at Axios. But:
  • The fine print: The savings in the larger deduction isn’t quite as big as it appears, notes Business Insider, pointing to the fine print: “To simplify the tax rules, the additional standard deduction and the personal exemptions for taxpayer and spouse are consolidated into this larger standard deduction.” For example, a single person with no dependents currently takes the standard deduction of $6,350, plus one personal exemption of $4,050. The new plan replaces that with a single deduction of $12,000, or a 15% increase.
  • Wealthiest: Though initial plans called for a reduction in the top rate paid by the wealthiest individuals (those who make more than $418,000) from 39.6% to 35%, Politico reports that this is “now open to negotiation.” That’s partly because Trump wants to make sure Democrats are on board, reports CNN. Another idea being floated is to impose some kind of tax surcharge on the wealthiest Americans. The plan also calls for the elimination of the estate tax and the alternative-minimum tax.
  • Lowest rate: It would reportedly rise from 10% to 12%, though the increase for low-income Americans would likely be offset by the bigger standard deduction.
  • Simplification: The current system has seven brackets ranging from 10% to 39.6%. Trump wants to reduce the number of brackets to three, perhaps from 12% to 35%, reports the Hill. (Income levels for each have not been determined, and it’s possible a fourth bracket would be added for the wealthiest Americans.) Under the changes, Trump says most Americans would be able to fill out their taxes on a single page, reports the AP.
  • Elderly parents: A new credit of up to $500 would be created for those caring for non-child dependents, including parents, per USA Today. The newspaper’s roundup also notes that people would no longer be able to deduct state and local income or property taxes, which would hurt residents in high-tax states such as California and New York.
  • More details: Business Insider has a comprehensive roundup of what is known about the plan, including a 25% rate for “pass-through businesses,” which applies to those who own their own business The plan would also increase the Child Tax Credit, an idea championed by Ivanka Trump.

“Trickle Down Economics” makes a comeback……a theory that has NOT worked in 30 years and so why not keep pushing a lie…..something the GOP has mastered.

And yes I have an idea for tax reform that I posted a month ago…..

Source: Tax Reform—-2017 Edition – Gulf South Free Press

Listen to the rhetoric and smile or dig through the manure pile and find the truth of the matter……this is a typical GOP proposal…..wealthy get richer and the working stiffs get buried…..

The one thing that the GOP seems to ignore….what may have worked in the 1980’s will not work in the 21st century…..but Hell keep pushing that failed theory….dress it up and force feed it to the population.

Lessons Of Vietnam

After I served my tours in Vietnam and returned to college I studied international relations and conflict management….while studying I came across a list of lessons that were learned from that war (some lessons are never learned)…..

After we left the country in shambles there were many analysts that took a good look at the war and how it was fought……by doing this these people hoped that a good hard look at our failings would prevent the US from making the same mistakes again (anybody that knows anything about the Vietnam War may begin their laughter now and avoid the rush)…….

In 1980 a group of several hundred analysts got together to prepare a report for the Pentagon to avoid any further missteps that are involved in fight a war.

The first thing that came out was….”Don’t Get Involved In Civil Wars”…..after WW2 Vietnam became a civil war and we chose sides.  (What would you call the Balkans in the 90’s, Syria, Libya and Yemen of today?)

Second, “Don’t Micromanage The Troops”….Vietnam was fought by the president and carried out by those around him.  (Keep in mind the Trump has said that he knows more than his generals)

Third, “Let The Military Run The Military”…..Congress has taken upon itself to dictate to the military….Congress calls the shots on recruitment, training and disciple.

Fourth, “Do not get into a war you do not intend on winning”…..sound familiar?  Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

Fifth, “Incrementalism does no work”…..Really?  You mean like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan?

Sixth, “Telling The Truth”…….in Vietnam the government would never admit just what were the goals intended…..oncve again, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

And finally number seven, “Ignoring History”……..just like a grasp of history would have kept the US out of Vietnam…then same can be said for Afghanistan and a small part Iraq….

After a special study was done to see what went wrong…..we flushed down the crapper and kept doing the same stupid crap war after war.

Lessons were not learned or better said…ignored.

So because of that we keep making the same mistakes over and over…..

In Kabul, Afghanistan, American Embassy personnel who want to meet with their counterparts at the nearby U.S. military base have to travel a mere 100 yards. But they don’t make a practice of walking or driving. They go by military helicopter, reports The New York Times. The space between is too dangerous to cross on the ground.

It’s the sort of bizarre fact that might have emerged in Ken Burns’ new PBS series on the Vietnam War, illustrating our inability to turn South Vietnam into a safe, stable place. But it’s not the past; it’s the present.

The Vietnam War was the greatest U.S. military catastrophe of the 20th century. A conflict begun under false pretenses, based on ignorance and hubris, it killed 58,000 Americans and as many as 3 million Vietnamese. It ended in utter failure. Never in our history have so many lives been wasted on such monumental futility.

Source: The Vietnam Syndrome: How We Lost It and Why We Need It Back – Reason.com

But wait!  The Pentagon has a new analytic tool that will improve the way we fight wars our future wars…..

An emerging analytics tool may assist military leaders in making better decisions on the battlefield by predicting the motives of adversaries.

Known as abductive reasoning, the concept takes advantage of advancements in machine learning, said Rick Pavlik, director of analytics and machine intelligence at Polaris Alpha, a defense and intelligence agency contractor.

“Abduction is all about having a set of observations or evidence and trying to come up with the … root cause or an explanation that would describe the observations that we’re seeing,” he said.

Humans have used abductive reasoning since the beginning of mankind, but there is now a large demand to automate it, Pavlik said. “There appears to be a lot of momentum.”

Source: New Analytics Tool Could Help Military Leaders

Seriously, who do they think they are kidding?

The Pentagon will spend the money for the study and then do what they always does….the same stupid shit they always do.

Who’s Got The War?

All the news about this nuke versus that nuke coming out of North Korea…..all, the rhetoric back and forth…..all the threats fired in the others direction….the situation is spiraling…..

Just how long has North Korea been wanting a nuke?

North Korea has always been an enigma to the western world. They are coined the “Hermit Kingdom” by many Western cultures because of their almost complete shut-out of foreign media. Nevertheless, North Korea makes headlines across the world, and lately, those headlines involve one thing; Nuclear weapons.

There have always been efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear program through many acts of diplomacy, but North Korea would typically go back on the pacts they made with any country. It was becoming a trend and a tool that they would use to garner leverage in negotiations: fuel, food, or aid of any kind. But now, they have a working nuclear arsenal, and are threatening the very existence of our planet. So how did they get here? Here’s a brief history of North Koreas Nuclear Program.

Source: A Brief (and Terrifying) History of North Korea’s Nuclear Testing

So North Korea has been testing and doing all the research to acquire a nuke since the 1950’s……they have come to the point now where they are testing nukes regularly and now the research on a delivery system.

Since Trump came to the seat of power the rhetoric aimed at North Korea has become louder and louder…..more mike the Tweets than anything substantial….then Trump goes to the UN and delivers a speech that threatens North Korea with annihilation….now NK has turn the tables…..

In the escalating war of words between the United States and North Korea, the latter just fired a verbal bomb by way of Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. The Independent quotes the official as telling reporters in New York on Monday that “the whole world should clearly remember it was the US who first declared war on our country. Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to [take] countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.” It’s not the first fiery statement made by Ri in recent days. More on the situation:

  • Background: Ri was the one who previously likened Trump to a barking dog, and in a UN speech on Saturday, he called President Trump “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency” whose decision to call Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man” makes “our rocket’s visit to the entire US mainland inevitable all the more.” Trump responded, tweeting this Saturday night: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”
  • Today’s response to Ri: Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the subject head-on in Monday’s White House press briefing. “We’ve not declared war on North Korea, and frankly the suggestion of that is absurd.” CBS News has more: “It’s never appropriate for a country to shoot down another country’s aircraft when it’s over international waters. Our goal is still the same: We continue to seek the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That’s our focus, doing that through both the most maximum economic and diplomatic pressures as possible at this point.”
  • “How worried should we be?” That’s the question Joshua Keating asks at Slate. It’s “pretty scary” stuff, he admits, but he cautions against overreacting and explains why. He also points out that “in some sense the US and North Korea are already at war,” as the Korean War of 1950-1953 didn’t end with a peace treaty.
  • About those bombers: The AP reports America flexed its military muscle on Saturday as well, with US bombers and fighter escorts entering international airspace off North Korea’s east coast and flying to the farthest point north of the Demilitarized Zone of any American aircraft in the 21st century.
  • Who is Ri, anyway? According to a Sept. 16 article in the Atlantic by Joel S. Wit, he may be our “best chance for finding a way forward because of his close ties to the ruling Kim family”; Wit explains why here. The Guardian calls him the “diplomat who could defuse the crisis.”

As the two sides ramp up their rhetoric China has had to step in and sound like the adult in the room……

After a weekend of additional threats traded between the US and North Korea, a top official in Beijing urged both sides to rein it in. The White House and Pyongyang should “not further irritate each other and add oil to the flames of the tense situation on the peninsula at present,” says a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, per Reuters. The plea came after a North Korean official told the UN Saturday that a nuclear strike against the US is “inevitable” because of President Trump’s mockery of Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man.” Trump followed that up with a threatening tweet Saturday night: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” (And that’s after Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” the North, and Kim’s reference to Trump as “mentally deranged.”)

Over the weekend, China said it would ban textile imports from North Korea and limit exports of refined petroleum products, but an analysis at the Washington Post asserts that Beijing is still “not prepared to do anything that might bring down the North Korean regime.” Specifically, that would mean putting a full stop to exports of crude oil to the North. “The North Koreans have figured out that the Chinese are genuinely in a bind,” says one expert from the Lowy Institute in Australia. “Having cried wolf for so long about having limited influence, the Chinese genuinely do have limited influence in North Korea right now. It’s not just weasel words.” Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated to British leader Theresa May in a phone call that he thinks the situation must be resolved through new talks.

Of course all this could just be a couple of playground bullies shoving each other….but I am not willing to take that chance.

Someone needs to step in and bring some sanity into the conversation.

America: Beacon Of Democracy

For decades now the US has been seen by the world as a shining beacon of democracy around the world….a champion of democracy and freedom….and many Americans still believe that is true….

But there is a stat that many people have NO idea about and they need to know that all is not as perfect as they think….

For decades, the American people have been repeatedly told by their government and corporate-run media that acts of war ordered by their president have been largely motivated by the need to counter acts of aggression or oppression by “evil dictators.” We were told we had to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator. We had to bomb Libya because Muammar Gaddafi was an evil dictator, bent on unleashing a “bloodbath” on his own people. Today, of course, we are told that we should support insurgents in Syria because Bashar al-Assad is an evil dictator, and we must repeatedly rattle our sabers at North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin because they, too, are evil dictators.

This is part of the larger, usually unquestioned mainstream corporate media narrative that the US leads the “Western democracies” in a global struggle to combat terrorism and totalitarianism and promote democracy.

I set out to answer a simple question: Is it true? Does the US government actually oppose dictatorships and champion democracy around the world, as we are repeatedly told?

Source: US Provides Military Assistance to 73 Percent of World’s Dictatorships

The truth is the the US is propping up more dictators than democratic regime…..and for a year now it is getting worse…..